Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mockbusted #13: Witchslayer Gretl

I told you I'd find them all. Technically, this last mockbuster of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (at least until the release of Hansel and Gretel Get Baked) is only noted as such on the mainstream film's Wikipedia page, and actually came out early last year, so I don't even know if it qualifies as a true mockbuster. Then again, Witch Hunters had been in the works for a while, and SyFy will no doubt be re-running this on their network soon if they haven't already. I can't call Witchhunter Gretl a great movie, or even all that good, but then I still need to wash the taste of Warriors of Witchcraft out of my mouth, so just compared to that piece of shit, this one is at least watchable.

Witchslayer Gretl follows the story of an adult Hansel strangely enough, Gretl being a much smaller role who only appears half way into the movie. Hansel is actually the witchslayer, played by the guy from Stargate SG-1 who wasn't the guy from Ferocious Planet, out for revenge against all witches after his sister was kidnapped when they were kids. Come to think of it, its particularly weird that this is the one movie out of all four of them with Hansel's name not in the title, as its the only one to make him the primary protagonist, all of the others going the Joss Whedon route of following the spunky heroine. He does an okay job and is probably the best actor in the movie, but only by comparison to Shannon Doherty and a bunch of subpar no names, and he's a bit doughy to fit comfortably into the action hero role.

Lopsided eyes are a clear sign of witchcraft.

The fairy tale connection is very tenuous, to the point where they could have easily excised it completely from the movie without missing much, and to the point where I almost suspect it may have been tacked onto a more standard fantasy film at the last minute to make it more interesting. Its not quite as cheap looking as Warriors of Witchcraft, but its close, with among other slights a gargoyle-esque demonic familiar proving to be maybe the worst looking CGI to ever grace the SyFy Channel (which given their track record is really saying something). Most of the budget not earmarked for the Shannon Doherty get appears to have been spent on the various gadgets the witchslayer uses to combat evil, from a medieval walkie talkie, to a magical laser whip, and even a set of spiffy jeweled Geordi LeForge specs to see invisible witches. None of it really pays off in the end.

The biggest problem I have with the movie is that the mechanics of magic and witchcraft are never consistent and sometimes just don't make sense. At some points its implied to allow a person to conjure anything, and at other points it seems more limited. The main villain can jump from body to body, but at one point I think they have to stake her original corpse like a vampire to free her current host, but then the spirit comes out of the corpse, not the host, and just possesses someone else, and then later, the corpse comes back as the evil queen, even though I thought it was implied that she had switched places with another person, or at least welcomed death. Then there's some reference to binding magic, which apparently is something really dangerous to the one good witch near the end, but its never made clear what this is, and it is deflected without much effort. I liked the idea that Gretl was born with the ability to use magic, and Hansel was born as the antithesis of that, immune to it, but this could have been used and expanded upon a lot more.

Overall, Witchslayer Gretl is the most competently put together of the Hansel and Gretel mockbusters, and in setting and tone easily the closest to the original film, but there are too many flaws to call it the best of the lot. That honor still belongs to the Asylum. Still, its not entirely awful and I can see an action fantasy fan with low enough standards getting a kick out of it. I wouldn't recommend trying too hard to seek it out, but if you come across it on TV or online somewhere, I'd probably put it at the lowest possible rung of my SyFy channel watchability scale (patent pending), which is to say just barely worth your time, but only if you can forgive a lot of chintzy execution and don't have anything better to do with yourself.
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